Prominent department store site to become two-storey gym
- Credit: Archant
The green light has been given to turn a former Dereham department store into a two-storey gym.
The Chattels store in Norwich Street in the town centre closed last November, and Breckland Council has approved a change of use at the site.
New tenant Nathan Gostling is turning it into a health and fitness club, offering memberships and classes.
He already runs NR Health and Fitness Club gyms in Wymondham and Attleborough, and said: "This will be my third one.
"We want to get on site on August 1 and to open on October 1. We are looking at a total building cost of about £80,000.
"We hope to have 800 members and should be putting up new signage at the store in the next couple of weeks. The original cafe in the store will be turned into a male and female changing area."
Mr Gostling has described opening the gym in his hometown as a "life's ambition".
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The 29-year-old received £20,000 in funding from a district council start-up scheme towards the project.
He said: "It's a health and fitness club for everybody - we're catering for affordable fitness and giving people value for money.
"We'll be offering 40 classes a week including membership with no contracts or joining fees."
Proposals for the project include exercise equipment across two floors.
Mr Gostling added: "We feel there will be a benefit to the town by increased footfall to support the town's growth and attract new people to the area."
Membership will cost £26.99 a month, with a discounted rate for NHS and other workers of £21.99.
Chattels of Dereham was very much the vision of businessman Basil Todd who bought the former Palmers department store in 2014 and began its complete renovation and transformation.
But he was unable to see it come to fruition as he died after losing a cancer battle.
His daughters Debbie Bales and Bridgette Hall took over his business affairs and opened Chattels in October 2015.
Its closure three years later, due to the financial climate in high end retail, resulted in about 15 job losses.